Jeff Neal for C.U.R.E. - Certain Unalienable Rights Endowment

Posts Tagged ‘book review’

Glenn Beck is fanning the wrong flames

In Opinion, Political Critique on March 1, 2011 at 9:25 pm

First, I believe that Mr. Beck’s intentions are pure.  I fear, however, that the attacks on him have, understandably, triggered innate defense responses.  Consequently, he’s fighting and waging the wrong battle.  He’s fighting hate with fire; that will not end well.  I admit that understanding what we are facing is necessary, but it is not a complete, winning strategy.  Inflaming the left without making the contrary arguments calmly and repeatedly will result in a power struggle to the death of the Republic.

Support for freedom and individual rights thrives if, and only if, it is nurtured.  Beck’s TV shows (so too the opposition’s) are filled with telling his audience who to be against.  He cites polls showing this or that preference of some position by some majority.  Over and over he suggests that the supporters of the majority view, as revealed in that magic crystal ball called a poll, needs rise up and impose its will on the rest of the country.

He will never be more wrong.  We must not tolerate our politicians or TV pundits mimicking Joe Barton (See his Tea Party speech here) who wrongly thought he could pander to the Tea Party Patriots by identifying with the tank driver in Tiananmen Square, likening the Democrats to the little girl.  I don’t want to cajole anyone to agree with me, I want to be free, including free of Democrats or Republicans passing laws that tell me how to live and where my money should be “invested” by the federal government.  A government that is not neutral is tyrannical.

The sovereignty of the individual as set forth first in the Declaration of Independence, all men are created equal and are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, is the most important and radical political statement in the history of mankind.  Never before was the individual recognized as the center of all things.  That uniquely American, foundational truth gets overlooked when the power struggle for a majority begins.  Candidates bob and weave to bundle together enough votes from disparate interest groups to form a majority.  Then, once in office, the newly-powerful elected official hides behind the “voice of the people,” the power of democracy, and a “mandate” to [unlawfully] infringe on the freedoms of the people who voted against him in favor of those who voted for him.

That cycle will accelerate the downfall of the Republic that Mr. Beck genuinely claims to be working to avert.  I pray he finds his bearings and stops preaching fire and brimstone, and instead instructs his opponents about salvation.  Even during violent battles, Abraham Lincoln saved the union by appealing to his enemies best nature, not by attacking their worst flaws. 

With malice toward none, with charity for all.

Please rediscover that spirit, America.  Please.

–  See Lincoln’s Sword by Douglas Wilson for a scholarly treatment (and inspirational read) of President Lincoln’s use of rhetoric to save the Union.


Anesthetics, Job Growth and The Bazooka

In Economics, Financial, Opinion on February 5, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Notwithstanding that none of them actually say this, a read of the books and reports about the financial panic of fall 2008 leads to this conclusion: the capital markets will remain relatively stymied and stagnant until they are freed of government intervention and arbitrariness. “Saving” GM and AIG and similar acts that purported to prevent or eliminate the pain of failed business plans are the equivalent of giving the financial system anesthesia. When the drug wears off, unless the disease has been cured, the pain returns and is usually worse. That’s where the US economy is headed. Government actions are propping up the price of certain assets and securities, but government actions are driving down the value of those assets and securities, particularly in the real estate sector. When price finds value, as the market forces say it must, it will be a steep and painful fall that will destroy trillions of dollars in wealth.

Markets seize up due to what has been called ‘regime risk,” and that is the primary cause of the loss of value – the lack of liquidity; money is not flowing to its most productive, profitable uses.  Uncertainty in the rules of the road paralyzes the market, robbing it of one of its key supporting characteristics – the truth. Other risks can be assessed and quantified; regime risk can not be.  When capital seeks safety, risky, innovative ventures starve, and we get lackluster job growth.

To get a sense of why the investors are reticent to bet on the future, one might read Hank Paulson’s book On the Brink. It is a confessional about how he, among other abuses of power, scared Congress into giving him a “bazooka” so he would have enough power to “save the financial system as we know it” (and feed the victims to whichever bank or crony was on the right side of the conference table). That kind of arbitrary, extra-legal behavior by the government makes market participants keep their wealth in protected, safe investments, rather than deployed in risk-taking, innovative ventures. None of the capital market’s participants who are not ‘lobbied-up’ will step up to the black jack table so long as the politicians are in the back room deciding with the lobbied-up crowd whether sometimes the dealer’s 23 beats 21.

Oh, and now the “other” team has the bazooka, a development that Mr. Paulson reveals that he does not appreciate. He writes that he was surprised when candidate Obama, previously having been so engaging during the 2008 campaign, stopped talking to Mr. Paulson the day after winning the election. DUH, Mr. Secretary; the bazooka conveys with the presidency. “What use are you to me now?” was President-elect Obama’s clear message to outgoing Secretary Paulson, and poor Hank had no idea he’d done it to himself.